Cincinnati-area hospitals to require staff to get COVID-19 vaccine

Published: Aug. 5, 2021 at 8:30 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 5, 2021 at 10:39 AM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - Staff and volunteers at Greater Cincinnati’s hospitals are now required to get the COVID-19 vaccine, a mandate that comes as the COVID-19 delta variant surges nationally and locally.

The policy will go into effect Oct. 1 for some hospitals or sometime this fall for others.

It includes The Christ Hospital, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Mercy Health, St. Elizabeth, TriHealth and UC Health, healthcare leaders said.

Thursday’s announcement came during a morning news conference at The Christ Hospital Health Network in Mt. Auburn.

“This fourth wave is a pandemic of the unvaccinated and a pandemic of those who are unable to be vaccinated including our children and kids,” President of TriHealth Mark Clement said.

There have been mixed feelings regarding the vaccination requirement announcement.

Nicole Horton at Tri-Health is in support of the vaccine mandate, saying it is part of the job.

“I think it’s great. Mandating vaccines is nothing new and people being angry about it is nothing new,” said Horton. “We had the same hoopla back about 10 years ago when they made the flu vaccine mandatory, but part of your job when you’re a nurse is to keep your patients safe.”

On the other side, Cincinnati area hospital worker Danielle Forman said forcing the vaccine on someone is like being in “an abusive relationship.”

Forman said she hopes to get a medical exemption for the vaccine.

Related Report | Can hospitals require employees to get vaccinated?

Parents of patients at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital have been reacting to the mandate as well.

Samantha Lipps said her 18-month-old son Benjamin has appointments there often due to airway disorders. Because of that, he is considered high risk. She is happy about the hospital’s decision because she feels it will protect patients.

“When you’re one of the best children’s hospitals in the nation, you’re treating very sick children, very high risk children, the least you can do with your staff and the workers in the hospital is make sure you’re protecting the patients as best as you can,” Lipps said.

Another mother, who asked to remain anonymous, said her daughter has special needs, so they travel four hours to Cincinnati Children’s for health care. She is against the mandate, fearing it will affect staffing, and in turn, her daughter’s care.

“We really don’t know the long-term effects of this. It’s not been out long enough. I mean I do want to do everything in my power to protect my daughter,” the mother said. “I’m just very concerned about mandating this vaccine, and then employees left with a choice if they don’t vaccinate or they quit their job, so by turn it’s going to effect my daughter.”

Dayton Children’s Hospital also announced Thursday it will require the COVID-19 vaccine for staff, volunteers, students and on-site contractors. Premier Health says its medical staff and employees will be required to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 1.

Kettering Health will require all of its employees to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 4.

The Ohio Hospital Association Board, Children’s Hospital Association, American Hospital Association, American Academy of Pediatrics and American Nurses Association all have urged it due to the delta variant.

The Mayo Clinic and dozens of other health care professional societies and organizations nationwide recently announced they would require staff to get the vaccine.

The federal government also will begin requiring its employees to get COVID-19 vaccines or meet strict health and safety requirements, President Joe Biden announced last week.

Fueled by the delta variant, COVID-19 cases in Ohio nearly doubled last week from just under 550 to over 1,000 for the first time since mid-May.

Now, parts of the state - including Hamilton County - are now being asked by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to mask indoors regardless of vaccination status.

On Wednesday, the Ohio Department of Health reported 2,167 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number to 1,134,965.

This is the highest number of COVID-19 cases reported in one day in nearly four months; the daily case count was 2,390 on April 12, 2021, state officials say.

Gov. Mike DeWine has said 99% of the COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths in 2021 since January were not vaccinated.

More than 5.3 million Ohioans (about half) and 161 million people nationally are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

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